Ravens Pre-Draft Press Conference Transcript

RAVENS PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE

Executive Vice President/General Manager Eric DeCosta, Head Coach John Harbaugh & Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz

Eric DeCosta opening statement:"Thank you, everybody, for coming; excited to have you guys all here today for the 'Liars Luncheon,' as it's been called. (laughter) First, I just want to make a quick shout-out to my son, Jackson, who turns eight years old today. He's been waiting a year to be eight years old and wear his Ravens Lamar Jackson jersey, with 'Jackson' on the back, so it's a big day for him.

"We are excited about the coming month. We've been working very hard over the last two or three months to get ready for this draft, starting with the All-Star games: the Senior Bowl, the East-West [Shrine Game]. We had a really good, productive Combine week looking at a bunch of players. We had the chance to study over 300 players. We interviewed 60 players formally, and then met with about another 100 players, as well, that week. We start our draft meetings next week, our most comprehensive draft meetings of the season, with the scouts and coaches. The coaches will get their chance to voice their opinions on the players starting on Sunday of next week. And, we'll meet all the way through next week, and then reconvene right before the draft for our final set of meetings starting on Monday that week, for two or three days, and then we'll be set. The board will be set, and I think we'll be in a good spot to pick the players."

You talked about draft meetings starting next week. What's the status of the information now? Is there a draft board, or is it all theoretical at this point? (Mike Tanier)

DeCosta:"No, we have a draft board. We've actually had a draft board since October, and we continue to augment that, and add players, and talk about various things. So much information over the course of the process gets added, whether that's additional scouting grades, cross-check grades, coaching grades, interviews, All-Star game grades and various things like that, along with all the measurables and things that we get at the Combine and after the Combine. So, it's an evolving process, and the board will be set probably on Wednesday, the night before the draft."

Eric, is it exhilarating for you? You've waited a long time for this opportunity. What are your emotions as you head into this draft, your first one? (David Ginsburg)

DeCosta:"It doesn't really feel any different, honestly. We've always worked extremely well together as a scouting and coaching staff. It's just never really been one person's decision. It's always been, I think, a unique process where we allow everybody the chance to speak about the players. We gather as much information as we can. We trust the process, and we really do make the best decision for the Ravens, and that's not going to change. So, we'll continue to involve everybody, and we take all the information and all the different reports and all the opinions that people have based on a lot of tape work and evaluation, and we'll make the best decisions for the Ravens."

As far as analytics, how will you employ that here? Were they employed the same this year as in the past, in terms of selecting, especially at the wide receiver position? (Jerry Coleman)

DeCosta:"I don't think that will change very much. We trust the people that are doing the work for us. We do some modeling with players, and we can consider things like personality profiles and statistics and various things. But I think in the end, what we really focus on is, 'Can the guy play football?' And, that's a decision that we make based on the coaches and the scouts and coach [John] Harbaugh and myself, and we try to find the players that really fit what it means to Play Like a Raven." (Reporter: "So, the eye test over analytics? Is that what you're saying?") "I think it's nuanced. It just depends on the various situations. We consider everything. We look at everything. It kind of all matches together like a big mosaic, and we'll make the best decisions we can."

Eric, an overview of this draft? Is there one position that you think is extremely deep in talent, and is there one position that you think might be a little light in talent? (Gerry Sandusky)

DeCosta: "Good question. I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but in looking at this draft, there are a lot of really good players. There are a lot of, just in terms of the depth and volume at the various positions, we see a lot of players. There are a lot of draftable players in this draft. I think secondary is pretty strong. There are a lot of really good safeties in this draft. Offensive line, interior offensive line, I think pass rusher is also a very strong position, as well, whether that's defensive end or outside linebacker. In terms of positional weakness, it's tough to say. As I said, there are a lot of really, really good players in this draft, and we expect to probably have about 180 draftable prospects when it's all said and done."

With some of the holes you have on your roster, is there an emphasis on guys who can make an immediate impact in this draft? (Todd Karpovich)

DeCosta:"That's always the goal, is to find players that have an immediate impact. That's the challenge, and if you can do that, as we saw this past year, you can really impact your football team. So, we'll try to find the guys that can really come in right away. We want guys at all positions, all our draft picks, to come in and contribute right away. Whether that's on special teams, defense or offense, [we want] guys that can dress and play good football, so that's not going to change."

Do you think you will try to get deeper at quarterback through the draft? (Stan Charles)

DeCosta:"We signed Robert Griffin III, as you guys know, so we really feel good about those two guys, and the challenge will be to find if there is a player we think can help the football team. Who is that guy at the quarterback position? Can that guy fill multiple positions, multiple roles? How does he fit? What's his skillset, personality? What is it about him that really stands out and makes him the type of guy that we want to pick?"

Joe, can there be sleepers anymore with everybody looking? (Kirk McEwen)

Hortiz:"It's getting tougher and tougher with the social media aspect of things, and Twitter, and agents blasting things out the moment one of their players runs well. And, we're all tied to it and following it. So, to say there can't be, I would say no. You can still dig them out, whether it's scouts … A lot of scouts are going [to dig deep], and guys are identified through the process in the spring. If a guy isn't highly-rated in the spring, less scouts are going in, so less scouts are following that player. So yes, you can still dig one out. I think our free agency, post-draft free agency, the history of it has shown that we're still having success with it and shown that you can still dig guys out."

John, do you think Eric DeCosta will be a little easier to sway if you have something you want to do than former general manager Ozzie Newsome? (laughter) _What do you think it will be like in that room? _(David Ginsburg)

Harbaugh:"We'll see. I don't think it's going to be too much different, because as we said, we've all been doing it for so long together. There's a process. Nothing has really been different from before. Ozzie is watching tape. We still talk about players. Eric – the conversations have all been exactly the same with Joe [Hortiz]. In the end, though, it will be Eric's call, and that's good. I think Eric has had a huge impact on the draft up until now. He's been a big part of it. Ozzie's and his relationship is very unique, very special. Joe is a part of that, and I just think these three guys work really well together."

Eric, at the moment, there's only one pick in the first, I think, 84 that you guys have after the trade last year. Does that put more pressure on that pick, and does it make you more likely to trade back to accumulate other picks, if not in the second round, even later on in the draft?_ (Bo Smolka)_

DeCosta:"If there's a great player there at 22, we'll make the pick, and we'll be very, very excited. But, one thing we've shown over the past years is we know how to manufacture picks. So, if the opportunity is there, we'll have a chance to trade back and accumulate picks. It's going to be based on the players that are available on the clock and the phone ringing, and just kind of assessing what we can accomplish with pick 22 versus what we can accomplish with all the additional picks that we were to receive. This draft is unique in that it took us about seven days to get through the meetings that we had in February, which means that … It normally takes about five days, and we had a lot more players in this draft that we spent time talking about. So, in this draft, if you can accumulate some additional picks, you have a really good chance to help your team."

Eric, when it comes to picks and trading picks, like you mentioned, sometimes that can be a spur-of-the-moment, last-second sort of thing because of how the board works. As you do so much group-think and consulting with one another, do those become more of your decision because you have to do it quickly? (Mark Viviano)

DeCosta:"We try to plan as much as we can ahead of time, especially looking at the first and second round, trying to figure out all the various scenarios that could happen. But, you never really know, and these things do happen very quickly, and the idea is to be as flexible as possible, to be organized. I think we do a very, very good job in the draft room at the moment with Pat [Moriarty, senior vice president of football administration] calling the shots with the trades, who's on the phone, and we also have John [Harbaugh] and Steve [Bisciotti] and Ozzie [Newsome] and Dick [Cass] and Joe [Hortiz]. So, I think we have a really, really good leadership team in place to help make those decisions. But, the idea is really to be ahead of time. It's like a game. A coach can't coach if he hasn't thought about various scenarios before the game and kind of has a game plan for what they want to do. We try to attack the draft the same exact way."

Eric, you look at the wide receiver group, and D.K. Metcalf in particular – and John, you talk about big, physical receivers – he certainly fits that category. But, is there any concern that he's more of a workout guy than a production guy on the field? (Pete Gilbert)

DeCosta: "He's big and fast. He's caught a lot of touchdowns. He's caught a lot of big plays. He's a guy that we're looking at, along with, as we said, 200 other prospects in this draft, and we'll assess D.K. versus the field. How does he stack up versus these other guys at all these other positions? And, we'll have a decision on draft day when we're on the pick." (Reporter: Does he remind you of anyone?")"What do you think, Joe?"

Hortiz:"Maybe a little Demaryius [Thomas] to him, just in terms of size, physicality, vertical speed. He can come off the ball, he can bend in line. Demaryius played in the Georgia Tech offense, so he didn't have a lot of production either, so there's a rawness to him in that regard."

DeCosta: "With the football, maybe Terrell Owens, running with the football after the catch."

Eric, we've talked about the wide receiver position. When you're analyzing what you guys have done in the past with wide receivers, have you done any kind of studies, maybe recently, to try to see what makes a wide receiver be able to transition from college to become a productive pro? (Jamison Hensley)

DeCosta:"We've looked at that at length. I think one of the biggest things that we have to do is just get some at-bats and swing. It's hard to be a .400 hitter if you're only going to bat twice. So, we have to take some chances. We have to find some guys that we like. We have to appreciate the really good football players, guys that make plays. Receivers come in all different shapes and sizes. Some guys are big and physical; other guys are fast and run great routes. Some guys catch the ball really well. Other guys drop three or four balls but catch six or seven touchdowns. He'll have to be an intelligent football player. Having a special teams background is good, return skills. But, it really comes down to finding guys that fit who we are, that we like, who can help us win football games."

Eric, obviously every year's draft is hugely important to the following year's team. Can you put into perspective how this shapes up in importance to next year versus other years? (Peter Schmuck)

DeCosta:"This question is funny, because I get asked this question every year, and I always say, 'This is the most important draft.' And, I'm going to say it again. Every draft we have is the most critical draft that we have. We have to use this as an opportunity to get better as a football team, and we have the model. We've had some good drafts recently. Last year was a great example of bringing guys in who could play right away and help us become the best team we can be. We have to do that again. This is a huge opportunity for this football team. We need these younger players to come in and contribute right away so we can be the best team we can be in September."

John, the draft is such a measured event leading up to it, but in your tenure as head coach, you've seen a lot of draft picks make it, and a lot of draft picks that don't make it. Are there intangibles that maybe aren't as obvious to those of us on the outside looking in that maybe you look at to say, that increases this guy's chance of making it? (Gerry Sandusky)

Harbaugh:"I think there are. It's kind of as Eric said, a little bit in the eye of the beholder. It's a little bit of experience. All those things go into a mix, and you just recognize it when you see it. If you have some confidence in your ability to evaluate, which these guys do, and then [know] how they fit our team and how they fit what we're trying to do structurally or schematically or our needs, you know them when you see them. And, most of the time, we've been right over the years. And, when you miss, it's always going to be a little bit of a roll of the dice. There are always going to be other factors that mitigate it. If you look all around the league, the first round is a 50/50 proposition, at best – and that's the first round. That's the kind of process this is. But, if you know what you're looking for, you know what kind of team you want to build, how they fit your team, and we all communicate that and we talk about it a lot, we have a really good shot."

Eric, the Orioles just hired a guy [Mike Elias] to be their GM who has a scouting background. Is that the way you look at yourself, as a scout at heart? And, is the scouting department the way it is right now going to stay the same once the draft is over with director of scouting Joe Hortiz and Co.? (Jerry Coleman)

DeCosta:"I do look at myself as a scout. I started scouting in the Midwest in 1997. I had 17 states, so I really do appreciate that aspect of the business; going into a school and seeing a player and watching him and talking to people and really studying these guys. In the end, this is a sport. It's football, and that will never change. It's all about the player: How good is he, the personality of the player, the makeup of the player. Does he have the right football character? Does he have the right off-the-field character? Does he fit who we are? I think John has done a great job in the last 10, 11 years of building a football culture here that people understand and recognize and see. And, that's not going to change. That's a tangible thing that we feel every single day when we come in this building. It's a game that we play. You have to have the right qualities to fit this team, and that's what we look for."

You mentioned the strength of the pass rushers. Is that more interior than edge, or is it really both in your mind? (Childs Walker)

DeCosta: "I think both. There are good players that play defensive end, outside linebacker, guys that fit a 4-3 and a 3-4. There are some really good interior pass rushers, as well, that we think can come in and help us get to the quarterback. We're excited about that."

John, you had mentioned maybe the possibility of the draft being moved up. How did the scouts feel about that? Did they think the same thing? Joe, did you all talk about that? (Jerry Coleman)

Hortiz:"Just from a scouting perspective, we adjust. If they moved it up, we'd adjust. We have the process we go through right now, but if we need to move it up, we'll move it up. I certainly understand John's perspective of the opportunity to get the rookies in with the vets. They're missing three weeks, right, where they could be in here getting caught up. They come in behind. It's like missing the first three classes of freshman calculus and trying to get an A on the test. They're scrambling to catch up, so I certainly understand that." (Reporter: "John, have you heard from the league about that in any way, because they like to spread stuff out?")

Harbaugh:"No, they don't care what I think." (laughter)

For all three of you, Ozzie Newsome always talked about how this was like Christmas season for him. Do you still see that with him, even though he's in a different role? Is this still his favorite time of year? (Childs Walker)

DeCosta:"I think we all get very excited about the draft. It's just a great opportunity for us to get better as a football team. It's something that, to a degree, we can control. It's a game. For the scouts especially, we don't get to coach a game. We don't get to play in a game. We spend nine months developing this draft board and coming up with these players and ranking these players and discussing these players at length, and the coaches come in and contribute in a great discussion. And then, we have a chance to come up with our game plan, and we actually play the game. That's a great feeling. For me personally – I can't speak for Joe – but my greatest memories in the last 24 years have been the great teams we've had, but also the drafting, the draft day. There's no better feeling for me than coming in on that Thursday – or what used to be Saturday – coming in and getting ready."

Joe, the pass rusher Jachai Polite, how do you balance out what you've seen from him throughout his whole college season to one day where he probably didn't perform as well as he wanted to on his pro day? (Jamison Hensley)

Hortiz:"I've been asked that a lot of years about guys that test well, and maybe poorly. I think ultimately, it comes down to the film, and then, the testing results are just that. They're testing results on that day. The kid gets a chance to – whether it's Jachai or any other player – gets a chance to do it again. You look at Orlando [Brown Jr.] last year; he tested poorly, and he improved. Now, he didn't blow it out of the water at [the] Oklahoma [pro day], but he improved in everything that he did. And, it certainly didn't affect his ability to play for us this year, that day in Indy. So, I think you take it for what it is. They're testing results, but you also watch film and see the player."

Eric, as you prepare for the draft, is there anything roster-wise that you want to do before the draft, or do you feel like the roster as it stands now is pretty much set, and you'll address anything else after the draft and see what happens that weekend? (Garrett Downing)

DeCosta:"Never say never. We're comfortable where we are as a football team right now with the draft about three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks away. We're not done yet building the football team, and it's a long process, and we have until September before we have to play. We have a great idea of some other things that we can do. We'll be aggressive, we'll be flexible, and we'll build the best team we can."

Eric, clearly every team in the NFL has needs going into the draft. Are you comfortable this year with that mantra of taking the best player available? And, what impact do your needs play in that decision? (Stan Charles)

DeCosta:"We always factor need in. I think that is a little bit of a misconception that some people have. Of course, we look at need every single year. The whole offseason is really based on need. We're trying to figure out how we can be the best football team, and if you don't have an awareness of your own needs, it's hard to build a team. The idea would be that you're not going to pass up on a fantastic football player to take a good football player. We're never going to do that. But, when you have two players close together, and one player is a need position and the other player is not a need position, of course, if they're that close, you're going to always address with a need player, a need-based pick. The idea is, No. 1, first and foremost, the challenge is to stack the players in the right way, and that takes nine months to effectively do that. If you can do that, and you're right with your stack, everything else kind of falls into place."

Assessing need, how much down the line do you look? Do you look one, potentially two years down the line based on guys' contracts and whatnot? (Ryan Mink)

DeCosta:"We do that. We do look at impending free agents next year to help us make decisions. That's a factor. We'll look at the salary cap. We'll look at players, and we kind of assess what we look like now, and also what we might look like two or three years from now. When we go down to Florida and we meet with Steve [Bisciotti] and Dick [Cass] and John [Harbaugh] and Pat [Moriarty] and Ozzie [Newsome] and myself, that's a great chance for us to really talk about those kinds of things, as well. Big picture, what is this team going to look like in 2022 versus 2019? And, that helps us to formulate what our plan is going to be."

John, I would assume that when it comes to need, you're talking to Ozzie Newsome or Eric, now Eric, a lot. How often do you communicate at this time during the process, and how influential can you be when it comes to need? (Keith Mills)

Harbaugh:"They have always respected the coaches and the coaching staff or my opinion from a scouting perspective. I don't think we're divided at all, and we work really hard at it. And, because our coaches work hard at it – I feel like Ozzie has always been that way; Eric has always been that way; and it continues to be that way – we talk pretty much every day. Sometimes, I don't want to go in there. Sometimes, I feel like I'm bothering him, maybe, because we have so much work to do and so much tape. But it's nice to just walk in there and just sit down and shoot the breeze a little bit. 'Did you see this guy? Did you see that guy?' I'm sure if I like a guy, Eric is always going to know it, or if I don't like a guy, I pretty much make it pretty clear."

DeCosta:"Oh, I know." (laughter)

Harbaugh:"But to me, it's just the ongoing conversation, where you get on the same page. That's where you get aligned. It's not like one meeting [when] you go from zero to having all the answers. It's just an ongoing conversation with Joe [Hortiz] and everybody else, all the scouts. The scouts, we always have conversations – [senior personnel assistant] George Kokinis, [director of pro personnel] Vince Newsome. That's the way we're built. It's done amongst all the coaches and all the scouts."

Eric, going back to the need topic. Not that at an event called the "Liars Lunch" I expect a specific answer, but collectively, as you look at the needs of this team right now, is there a position where collectively, there's a sense of, "That is absolutely our No. 1 priority." (Gerry Sandusky)

DeCosta:"I don't think so. I think in general, we want fast guys, physical guys, playmakers, tough guys, durable, smart football players, and we can get better at every single spot. It would be foolish for us to sit up here and say we have no needs across the board at all the positions, because we certainly know we do. This game can change very quickly. You might go into a season with a position that you think is a very strong position, and in a matter of two days, you get two or three injuries, and that's become your weakest position. And, we've seen that over the years. So, the idea is to build a well-rounded team at every position where we have the best talent we can. I'm kind of reminded of the 1970 Orioles team, and they were strong at every spot. They had a great defense, they had a great offense, and they had an unbelievable pitching staff. That's our goal every single year, to build a team that we can be as strong as we can, on offense, defense and special teams."

With the salary cap, once you sign the draft picks, do you keep some money aside for some players later to bring into training camp? (Todd Karpovich)

DeCosta: "Yes, that would be the idea, to be as flexible as we can be with the cap, to have some room in case we have the chance to add some really good players. That's something that would be a great advantage to us, to have that money available throughout the course of the year so that if a team calls you with a prospective trade, a player gets cut [or] a player is available, you have the flexibility to sign that player if you think he fits your team."

What do you look for on film to help identify that competitive, scrappy-type wide receiver? (Mike Tanier)

Hortiz: "Fastest, biggest isn't always the most competitive. Historically, here we've had some guys that are outstanding competitors. My first year, Jermaine Lewis was an outstanding competitor, and he was small and not knocking guys over. And then you've got Anquan [Boldin], who was slow. So, I think Eric mentioned it, all receivers come in all shapes and sizes, but it's the guys that have that playmaking mentality, the willingness to help their teammates when they don't have the ball, that's what you want as a competitor. [We want] the guy who can make plays when he has it and can help you make it when he doesn't."

Joe, do you like this wide receiver class? It seems to be pretty diverse. _(Jeff Zrebiec) _

Hortiz:"Absolutely, and it is. Every year it's diverse. You've got guys who fit the ideal slot role, and then you've got the vertical outside threats, you've got the big/small. So, again, it comes down to what type of playmakers are out there, what their mindset [is], their makeup, their football character, like we've all mentioned up here. I think there are a lot of wideouts in this group, this year's class, that have the things you're looking for."

It seems that there is a large clump of receivers at the end of the first round, beginning of the second round. Do you guys see it the same way? (Ryan Mink)

Hortiz:"There are a lot of receivers, yes. (laughter)Yes, obviously there are going to be guys that are going to go [early], and the mock [drafts] are all saying at the end of the first [round]. But I think the year Corey Davis went fifth-overall, he was tagged to us in a lot of the mocks, and we were picking what, 18th that year? Three of them were gone by the 10th pick or 11th pick of the draft. So, to say that's where they're going to go, you can't really project it."

What do you want to hear from a wide receiver in an interview process, particularly in terms of their competitive nature? _(Mike Tanier) _

Hortiz:"I think you see their competitive nature on film and from talking to other people on the staff where he plays. That's where you gain that. And then obviously, the kid's mindset, you get that through discussion. I think when we're talking to kids, we're looking at a lot of different things – just how he carries himself, his football intelligence and then his makeup. We want to hear about who means the most to him, on and off the field. What type of teammate he is? His greatest struggles? Things like that, things he's overcome. There is a lot of diversity in the questions that we ask them, and we're just trying to paint the big picture of the guy."

Looking back on where you had Browns QB Baker Mayfield … People thought that John Dorsey took a leap to take his guy up top. Did you foresee the success that Mayfield would have as the top pick last year, and do you go back and look at where you had guys graded prior to the draft? (Kirk McEwen)

DeCosta:"We do. We do a lot of self-scouting in the offseason. A lot of times in May and June, we'll get back together as a scouting staff and kind of go through past drafts and look at different guys and look at old scouting reports, how we assess players. I do a lot of that in looking at the rankings and the board, and how we had guys stacked up. I don't want to talk about Baker. He had a great year this past year, he's really talented, and we've got to face him twice a year. We respect him, we respect the Browns, and we'll be ready for them."

As you build your best Ravens roster, how much influence is there from your direct competition as it pertains to building your roster? Does that factor in all of it? (Mark Viviano)

DeCosta: "We play these teams six times a year, so I think it factors in, to a degree. We've also got to play 10 other games, so we want to build the best team we can, and there are a lot of different ways to do that. Again, we go back to players that our coaches and scouts like. We look at our scheme; we factor that in for sure. We've got to find players who fit what we want to be. And they've also got to have the right mentality and makeup and character and competitiveness and all those other things to help us win games. We want to win the division – that's always our first goal – or one of our first goals, is to win the division. But we also want to be physical. We want to be tough, we want to be competitive, we want to be aggressive, we want to be fast, and we want to be smart. All these different things, we just try to find as many players who fit as many of those characteristics as possible."

How does not having a second-round pick factor into your aggressiveness, whether that's moving back in the first round, or maybe even trying to move forward in the third? (Jeff Zrebiec)

DeCosta: "Well, we've got two thirds, and we've got two fours, and we've got two sixes. So, we've got some flexibility; we've got some draft capital. Every draft is different. Some drafts we are sure the phone is going to ring and it doesn't, and then like last year, it rang too much. We could have made 20 trades. I mean, we could still be trading; the draft could still be going on! (laughter)You never know how it's going to shake up, but I think the idea is to understand that first of all, we've got to have the players ranked, and then we've got to be aggressive. We've got to be patient, and sometimes those two things kind of fight against each other, being aggressive but also being patient. We have a great opportunity this year to draft players, and I think those third-round picks and those fourth-round picks, those are gold for us this year. In this draft, having four picks in those two rounds, that's an ideal situation to be in."

Do you think last year was an anomaly in terms of how many trade offers there were? Or is trading becoming more prevalent in the draft, in your opinion? (Ryan Mink)

DeCosta: "I don't know. I don't know the answer to that. I will say this, that having the ability to trade compensatory picks has changed the way that people look at the draft, to a degree, and also comp picks. So, that's changed the dynamic a little bit."

As you build the offense around QB Lamar Jackson and his unique skillset, does that change the way you look at the offensive players in the draft? Are you looking at it through the filter of your quarterback's skills to some degree? (Childs Walker)

DeCosta: "That's a hard question, and John can probably answer that, but my own personal philosophy is just to find good football players. Who are the guys that make plays? Who are the guys that can dominate their opponents and play winning football? I think if we can find enough of those guys, we feel like we'll have a great team."

You started this press conference by mentioning the "Liar's Luncheon." Do you relish the idea that you can get other teams off your scent? Or is that just a necessary thing for you? (Aaron Kasinitz)

DeCosta: "Oh, I love it. I love it. That's one of the fun things about the draft throughout the course of history – the strategic aspect of the draft. I love that. As a kid, I loved to play Risk, I loved to play Monopoly – all those games. To me, this is a game, but it's not a game we can afford to lose."

Sometime before the draft you say you have a pretty good idea of what's going to happen before you pick. Is this a harder draft to predict that this year, or not? (Clifton Brown)

DeCosta: "I think we can answer that question after next week. We're not done with the process yet, and I think when we get to the end of next week, when we finish our meetings, we'll have a much better sense for that."

Joe, can you break down some of the University of Maryland players? Specifically, Tre Watson and Ty Johnson? _(Shawn Stepner) _

Hortiz: "Ty, he was down at the East-West [Shrine Game], I believe, and he is a physical runner and really gets after it. He comes downhill with really good burst and runs hard. And then Tre was here yesterday and had a pretty good workout for us. [He is] a versatile kid, very smart, intelligent football player that the coaching staff all speaks well of."

When looking at the center position, some of the top guys, what are you kind of seeing as their strengths in this draft? _(Jamison Hensley) _

Hortiz: "They're all a little different, as most players are. The one thing when looking at the top guys in the draft – without naming any names – they're all competitive. Every one of those guys that you look at on film, they get after it. They're smart, intelligent, physical football players that are very, very competitive. [They have] different athletic skillsets, different strengths, different weaknesses, but the thing you can hang your hat on with the top centers in the draft this year is they are smart and competitive." 

Eric, center is one of the positions where the Ravens have not used one of their top picks on. Is that just the way the draft has unfolded over the years? Or is that a position that is not considered a major priority? (Jamison Hensley)

DeCosta: "I think it's a really important position. That being said, there is always a very small amount of names on the draft board at that position – top guys – every single year. I don't know the statistics, but I would bet that you probably have an average of maybe one center a year – maybe less – going in the first round. I can't remember the last time we drafted … Maybe Casey Rabach, was what, 2001 draft? Jason Brown was a fourth-round pick [in 2005]. But there aren't a lot of guys every single year that you just covet. So, the challenge is … Now, this year, it's a little different. I can think of three or four centers in the draft that have a chance to be first-round, second-round picks. So, we'll see."

Advertising